Environment law update July 2014

South African environment law is enforced mainly by the Environmental Management Inspectorate, or Green Scorpions.

This SA environment law update of July 2014 includes Waste Act amendments, compulsory reporting of atmospheric emissions, and sustainability mechanisms.

Comment now on Greenhouse Gas Inventory
The Draft National Greenhouse Gas Inventory 2000 –2010 is open for comment until 31 July 2014. Meanwhile, measures aimed at ‘Development of Desired Emission Reduction Outcomes’ (DEROs) and ‘Mix of Measures’ for sectors and subsectors of the Economy (MoMs) was introduced by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) in July 2014.

Internationally, rigorous regulations are being implemented towards a 2015 global agreement on climate change. South Africa is under international pressure to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as the country is the twelfth highest emitter globally, reports CAIA.

The National Climate Change Response Policy sets out South Africa’s vision to mitigate GHG emissions and move towards a climate-resilient economy. However, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has also stated that the objectives of South Africa to contribute to a global reduction in GHG emissions needs to be balanced with aspects of the economy such as job creation and poverty.

The development of DEROs and Mix of Measures (MoMs) is an important next step in South Africa’s transition to a low carbon economy and will be informed by the Mitigation Potential Analysis (MPA) that was recently passed by the cabinet.

Following publication of the Draft Greenhouse Gas Inventory for South Africa 2000 –2010, the DEA will conduct analyses of measures (including the Carbon Tax and other regulatory instruments such as DEROs and carbon budgets) to determine what constitutes the best mix to achieve short-, medium and long-term targets towards a peak-plateau-decline (PPD) trajectory up to 2050.

The DEA intends sending out letters during July 2014 outlining project objectives and inviting stakeholders to workshops.

Draft mandatory GHG emission reporting regulations may be published for comment during September. Annual GHG emissions at or above 0.1 megatonne CO²- equivalent per company appears to be the current threshold that is proposed for carbon budgets.

Atmospheric Emissions Inventory System starts 2015
As provided for by the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act, reporting of annual Greenhouse Gas and pollutant emissions data via the Department of Environmental Affairs’ (DEA) National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory System (NAEIS) becomes mandatory in January 2015.

Within three months of notification by the relevant authority, companies need to have reported their emission data to the system. The overall aim of reporting is “to provide stakeholders with relevant, up-to-date and accurate information on South Africa’s emissions profile for informed decision making”.

All emissions would have to be reported, including;
• Emissions under licence
• Greenhouse Gas emissions
• Emissions for which there is no standard as yet, but where an emission limit has been set
• Certain production information
• Fugitive emissions.

There will no longer be separate reporting platforms per province. The NAEIS will be a single, national reporting platform. The DEA assured stakeholders that a draft policy on confidentiality and why certain data is required is being prepared for comment.

A draft regulation regarding the reporting of emissions is soon to be published. The Department urges all stakeholders to start working with the system to develop familiarity and load information so long, which may take some time for initial submissions. The Department will provide training to specific sectors soon.

Waste Act amended without consultation
An amendment to the National Environmental Management: Waste Act was published in the Government Gazette on 2 June 2014, but was not subject to any public consultation, despite a significant change to the definition of Waste, which now includes reference to a schedule that divides waste into two categories; Hazardous Waste or General Waste.

All waste from the chemicals and some other industries is now classified as Hazardous Waste. Chemicals body CAIA tried via business body BUSA to delay the Bill, but parliament went ahead regardless.

Government has since committed itself to explore legal options to address the challenges presented by the implementation of the Schedule. BUSA has sent a letter to the environment department requesting immediate remedial action to be taken in the interim, so that the chemicals and other affected industries are not subject to the provisions.

Meanwhile the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) participates in an Industry Waste Management Forum, intended to be held quarterly, while meetings with CEOs and MDs are proposed twice a year.

Mark Gordon, DEA Deputy Director-General of Chemicals and Waste Management, said the purpose of the forum to be to fill any gaps with stakeholders and to be able to fully incorporate waste into South Africa’s economy.

The DEA advised that company-specific issues should continue to be dealt with through the normal channels and that the forum was to engage with industry on implementation and challenging issues. Stakeholders suggested that sub-groups be established as required to deal with specific issues, and that the reporting of the outcomes of these subgroup engagements should be to the forum.

These issues were on the forum agenda:
• National Environmental Management: Waste Amendment Bill and implementation guideline
• Implementation of Schedule 3 of the National Environmental Management: Waste Amendment Bill (including residues and stockpiles)
• Pricing strategy for the Waste Management Levy
• Industry Waste Management Plans
• Establishment of the Waste Management Bureau
• Transitional arrangements
• Waste Classification and Management Regulations
• Implementation of the Norms and Standards for Landfill Disposal
• Implementation of Part 8 of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act
• Exemption from sections of the Waste Act.

Waste Act Fee Regulations Guidance
The NEM Act Fee Regulations Guidance clarifies application fees for environmental authorisations, including applications for amendments of environmental authorisations in terms of the National Environmental Management Act; waste management licences; and transfer and renewal of waste management licences in terms of the NEMA Waste Act.

DEA Waste Classification Task Team
A special meeting of the DEA and Industry Waste Management Forum discussed the promulgation and coming into effect of the National Environmental Management: Waste Amendment Act that has “caused some confusion in industry regarding the classification of waste”.

There are also waste classification and management regulations, promulgated late in 2013. The agenda allowed discussion of timeframes for implementation, challenges with prohibitions, challenges with the classification system, and the link to Schedule 3 of the Amendment Act.

An implementation guideline would be provided, and urgent implementation issues could be raised with the Department directly. An amendment to the Amendment Act may be considered in the future.

High Level Political Forum replaces Sustainability body
The High Level Political Forum (HLPF) replaced the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), after an international call for further stakeholder participation was made at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).

It aims at more political commitment to the achievement of countries’ legal obligations and to keep sustainable development high on political agendas. Input will be asked on a ‘zero’ draft document to state South Africa’s position on post-2015 goals on sustainable development.

These goals include measures to relieve poverty, hunger, health, education, gender equality, economic growth, decent work, sustainable industrialisation, inequality, sustainable cities and human settlements, sustainable production and consumption, climate change, conservation and the sustainable use of marine resources.

The forum agreed that each country’s political forum should;
• provide political leadership and recommendations for sustainable development,
• follow-up and review progress in implementing sustainable development commitments,
• enhance the integration of economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development,
• have a focused, dynamic and action-oriented agenda, and
• consider new and emerging sustainable development challenges.

Water catchment agencies
The Department of Water Affairs under notices 409 to 412 under the National Water Act, noted Establishment of the Limpopo-North West Catchment Management Agency; Proposal for the establishment of the Olifants Catchment Management Agency; Establishment of the Pongola-Umzimkulu Catchment Management Agency; and Establishment of the Breede-Gouritz Catchment Management Agency through extending the boundary of the Breede-Overberg Catchment Management Agency.

• Sources; DWA. CAIA. RC. PMG.
• SA health and safety law updates are posted separately on Sheqafrica.com

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